n my previous paper I recounted how the Crusaders destroyed Moslem Jerusalem and massacred its Islamic
and Jewish inhabitants. How Godfrey de Bouillon became the first king of what
came to be known as The Kingdom of Outremer, his death, and the succession
of his brother Baldwin I to the crown.
and Guy de Lusignan after battle of Hattin in 1187
by Said Tahsine (1904–1985)
[Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Time and space preclude me detailing any but
the final years of this small kingdom which existed for only 87 years. During
that time European adventurers and nobles travelled to the rumoured Land of
Golden Opportunity to make their fortunes, many being slain, succumbing to
disease, or enslaved before reaching their goal. Others made it to success
or begging. Pilgrims resumed their journeys to The Holy City under the protection
of several Knight hospitaler orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights of
St John, and Teutonic Knights; that also founded hospitals to treat the sick
Meanwhile important events took place within
the Islamic community. A radical faction of the Shiites established two mountain
fortresses and became the much feared Assassins. They murdered Moslem leaders
hostile to their aims and also did contract killing for Christians and Moslems
Around the same time a young Kurdish man born
in what is now Iraq travelled to Egypt to enter into his uncle's service. He
was a brilliant scholar but proved also to be a formidable warrior and leader;
eventually becoming Sultan of Egypt. He was regarded as the epitome of chivalry
as his forces steadily progressed into Outremer. This was the Great Saladin.
By now Jerusalem had been ruled by several kings,
the current ruler being Baldwin IV, a 13 year old leper with a powerful count,
Raymond of Tripoli, acting as regent. As Baldwin had obviously just a short
time to live his sister Sybella, aged 14, was married to a Frankish knight
who died within a year leaving her with a young baby.
When Baldwin reached 16 he became king in his
own right proving a shrewd ruler and a doughty fighter. Nonetheless Christian
rule in Jerusalem had only a few more years to run; in the interim conflict
and truce alternated and intrigue ruled supreme on both sides.
The lovely Sybella was shown a portrait of a
handsome young French knight Guy of Lusignan and she invited him to travel
to Jerusalem. Soon they were married and, in view of the deterioration of the
Leper King, Guy assumed the Regency. Gorgeous fellow he may have been but he
was also dead dumb and reluctant to make firm decisions.
Baldwin became ever weaker and finally, aged
24, he succumbed to his dreadful illness. He appointed his young nephew King
with Raymond of Tripoli once again as Regent. Just two more years remained
for Christian Jerusalem!
The sickly young King Baldwin V died less than
two years later. Raymond was tricked into leaving Jerusalem and Sybella was
then crowned queen by an opposing faction. She was presented with a second
crown and invited to place it on the head of her chosen king. Naturally she
gave it to the much hated Guy. Angered Raymond returned to his own lands in
During this chaotic period there had been a
truce with Saladin but not for much longer. Let a new villain now enter the
tale, one Count Reynald. who threatened the truce when he raided a large Moslem
caravan, looted a fortune, and slayed many. Saladin demanded Guy force Reynald
to make reparations but the rogue ignored the order knowing Guy was a weakling.
Tensions rose and conflict was resumed with Saladin raising a huge army.
Guy was persuaded to send a large delegation
including the Grand Masters of The Temple and St John to travel to Count Raymond’s
castle at Tiberias to persuade him to return to the fold. In the interim he
had entered into a non aggression pact with Saladin some of whose Mamelukes
requested permission to travel across his lands without damaging them. Guy
agreed and the Moslem warriors travelled through without incident. Meanwhile
Guy learned of the Jerusalem delegation travelling towards him. He sent messengers
to warn them to lay low for a couple of days until the Mamelukes returned to
base but the delegation rode onwards.
Next morning the Count was shocked to see an
exuberant Mameluke force galloping back with Templar heads on their spears.
The previous day the Knights hospitaler had
ignored Raymond’s warning, gathering other members of their Orders into their
ranks and moving on to Nazareth in search of trouble. Here their scouts found
the Mamelukes watering their horses behind a nearby hill.
The Grand Master of the Knights of St John urged
a cautious retreat but hawkish Gerard, Grand Master of the Templars taunted
his companions into conflict. He yelled to locals that there soon would be
a battle close by and they should come to gather the loot.
A great massacre ensued but not of the Mamelukes.
The St John’s Grand Master’s head joined others gracing Moslem spears and only
three knights survived. Templar Grand Master Gerard, although wounded, was
one of those. The biggest massacre of all however was soon to follow, yet again
caused by the Templar leader’s gung-ho attitude.
Due to Gerard’s breaking of the Truce Raymond
knew a major conflict was inevitable. He cancelled his pact with Saladin and
returned to Jerusalem to pledge his loyalty to King Guy. His capable wife remained
in command of their castle’s strong fortifications in the North.
A month after the Nazareth slaughter Saladin’s
army captured the city of Tiberias, part of Raymond’s territory, and besieged
his fortress. King Guy and his Christian leaders raised a huge army and travelled
from the western coastal city of Acre to Sephoriah. Here the hawks urged an
advance against the Saracens encampment near the Dead Sea. Raymond’s faction
realised the dangers of any such action and urged that the army stand firm
near The Pools of Goliath with its adequate water and grazing resources.
The leaders adopted this policy at midnight
and retired but Gerard, Grand Master of the Templars returned and persuaded
the king to march the army towards Saladin’s base. So it was that on July 3rd
this great army left at dawn marching towards Tiberias over rugged, dry terrain
with no water.
Saladin’s forces were aware of the advance and made their own preparations.
The die was cast for a terrible end game.
By evening the army was too exhausted to continue
so made camp near a two peaked rocky hill, The Horns of Hattin. The adjacent
well proved to be dry so they spent a night of thirsty misery. To add to their
sufferings the Saracens set fire to the surrounding scrub and dense hot smoke
poured over them.
Under cover of darkness and smoke Saladin’s
army surrounded Guy’s army so completely that a contemporary moslem chronicler
claimed not even a cat could have broken through. Saladin attacked at dawn
and the Christians fought fiercely but in vain. A terrible slaughter began.
Raymond led his mounted knights against part of the surrounding human wall
in an attempt to break the circle; instead it opened to let them through then
closed again. Unable to re-enter those knights rode off to Tripoli.
Many were the men gored on The Horns of Hatin
before the king’s army surrendered. King Guy, the villain Reynald, the Templar
Grand Master and several other leaders were captured and taken to Saladin’s
tent. Greeting the king graciously he had him seated beside him and offered
him a goblet of rose water cooled by snow. Thus under the laws of Arab hospitality
he showed the king he was safe.
Guy drank, then offered the goblet to Reynald
and an infuriated Saladin dashed it from the Truce Breaker’s hands, drew his
sword, and beheaded him on the spot. Had Reynald drank from the goblet he would
also have been sacrosanct.
Saladin assured Guy he was safe “For a king
does not kill a king” then spared all captives except the surviving knights
of the Military Orders apart from the Templar Grand Master. They were beheaded
on his orders by Sufi fanatics. Thus was the greatest army the kingdom had
ever assembled destroyed and the claimed Holy Cross of Christ that had accompanied
it taken by the Moslems. Thus the great fighting force of the Templars was
destroyed never to recover. The prisoners were taken to Damascus to be ransomed
or enslaved. … Saladin was Lord of the Moslem World.
Next day Raymond’s wife surrendered their fortress
to Saladin who treated her with honour, allowing her and her household to go
to Tripoli. By 10th July Acre had fallen without slaughter of its citizens.
By 20th of September Jerusalem stood besieged. The final chapter began.
Bloody fighting raged around the city walls
until a surrender was negotiated and on October 2nd Saladin entered Jerusalem.
In contrast with the Christian Crusaders who had waded through blood and slaughter
88 years before there was neither looting nor killing but a ransom was demanded
from all inhabitants. Efforts were made to raise funds to free everybody but
some of the poorer inhabitants were enslaved.
Here I must mention the disgusting conduct of
the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem who paid the ransom for himself and
his mistress then departed with all his treasures. Those could have liberated
Saladin had the Al Aqsah Mosque cleansed and washed out with rose water and
then did the same to The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He then returned to
its original Orthodox owners. The noble Raymond died of pleurisy soon afterwards
and the remaining Roman Catholic population was concentrated in the city of
Tyre and surrounds. All that remained of The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The Crusades however were far from over and
this residual Kingdom persisted for years afterwards. In a later paper I will
end the tale telling of the most tragic and the most farcical Crusade and the